A writer who lives next door to Mulder becomes the prime suspect in a series of killings.
SummaryThe sound of a beating heart can be heard. Then a man - later revealed as an author - is initially shown sitting at a desk, staring at a typewriter and storyboard. Seemingly deep in the process of writing, the unidentified individual succeeds only in smoking and pacing his sparsely furnished room. He eventually retires to the bathroom to discard a spent cigarette. Without warning or concern, the stranger suddenly reaches into his chest and removes a bloody heart.
The man is then seen walking down metal stairs into a cluttered basement, and opens the door of an incinerator. Noticing a beating heart amidst the flames, the mysterious individual appears unphased by the vision and nonchalantly tosses in a paper bag.
Scully encounters the stranger as she walks into an elevator. Both ride in silence up to the fourth floor, and we see Scully somewhat unsettled by the experience. The stranger and she exchange a final glance in the hallway before reaching their respective destinations. Scully knocks on Mulder's apartment door.
Mulder and Scully briefly discuss the man; he is a new arrival to the apartment building, and a writer of undisclosed material. The conversation quickly shifts to a case the pair are working on, wherein the heart of a second victim had been removed with the absence of any significant physical evidence. Mulder believes the heart was removed with a 'misunderstood' technique known as psychic surgery. The stranger stands on a chair with his ear to an air vent, listening to the conversation.
The night follows. Shirtless unnamed writer reclines on a bed, smoking and thinking. He mysteriously steals away in compelled haste.
A Jeep is parked in the woods with two teenagers, Maggie and Kevin, in the middle of a lover's quarrel. A hooded figure can be seen through the rear window of the vehicle. Frustrated at Kevin and unknowing of the third party, Maggie takes off into the woods to be alone. The boyfriend gives chase, meeting an unfortunate and rather surprising end at the hands of our sinister assailant. Unnamed writer intensely transcribes the event on his typewriter.
Mulder and Scully discuss the latest incident via telephone, speculating on motive and reasoning. An unmarked envelope is discovered by Scully in the office; contained inside is a pendant or charm. Voice-over exposition from the writer describes Scully's most intimate feelings and directives as she examines the unsolicited gift, and we see the stranger at his typewriter imprinting these thoughts into words on paper.
These events are followed by a man who is stalking the agents and recording the case from their point of view in a fiction authors prose.Scully runs into the author at a church who admits sending Scully the pendant and gives her a detailed account of her actions and predicted behavior based on things he has noticed. She is visibly shaken by his confessions.
Mulder and Scully meet in Autopsy to continue their discussion of the case. Scully relays her most recent encounter with the writer to Mulder, and the two now take additional interest in the author. "What kills you is his audacity...".
Mulder meets the author, Phillip Padgett in the elevator of his apartment building who shows interest in the case and a hint of jealousy. Meanwhile Padgett continues his story with an erotic chapter detailing a sexual encounter between himself and Scully.
Padgett woos Scully into his apartment with more character revelations. Mulder bursts in and arrests him based on accurate descriptions of the case murders in his novel.
While Padgett is in custody, Maggie is murdered in the same fashion as Kevin. This establishes a de facto alibi for the author. Lacking concrete and connective evidence to the murders (and hoping Padgett might lead them to his partner in crime), Mulder releases Padgett from custody.Back at his apartment, Padgett converses with the killer from his book. The two discuss motivations for the killings. Realizing that it prognosticates Scully's murder, Padgett heads to the incinerator to destroy his novel. Mulder intercepts him, thinking Padgett is instead simply destroying incriminatory evidence. The imaginary killer accosts Scully. Gunshots are heard. Mulder runs toward his apartment and shockingly finds Scully on the ground, unmoving. She suddenly revives, extremely frightened.
One last exposition from the author is given, explaining his final actions. The stranger lies stricken on the basement floor in front of the incinerator, his heart in hand, having "... given what he could not receive".
- The scene where Mulder runs after the hooded man in the cemetery had to be filmed on a motorcycle because David Duchovny runs so fast. According to Kim Manners, in a previous episode (Tunguska) David ran so fast that he outran two horses.
- When Mulder looks at a bill addressed to Phillip Padgett, the street address is shown onscreen as 2630 Hegal Place Apt. No. 44, Alexandria, VA 23242. The zip code "23242" is actually located in Henrico, VA, approximately 100 miles south of Alexandria. (At the time this episode aired, the official "preferred" Postal Service address for the zip code was Richmond, VA.) This may be a reference to the hometown of co-executive producer Vince Gilligan, who was born and raised in the Richmond area.
- 'Phillip Padgett' is also the name of the character played by Nicholas Lea in an episode of The Burning Zone titled "The Hall of the Serpent".
- In the cemetery, the camera seems to linger on a tombstone engraved with the names "Diana and Nicholas Salinger", which are the names of the late parents of the kids on Party of Five.
- A Milagro is the talisman that Padgett gives to Scully. 'Milagro' is Spanish for "Miracle".
- Padgett is smoking "Morley"
- We can assume the floor plan of each apartment on Mulder's floor to be roughly similar, if not identical. When we first see Padgett, we can tell, from the front-facing central doorway, that his writing desk is set up in the room equivalent to Mulder's "den"- the room where he almost always sleeps and watches TV. We also know, from past episodes, that Mulder's rather large "bedroom" is to the right of this room, and another kitchen area is to the left. So, their floor plans being identical, there is no plausible way that Padgett would be able to hear the conversations and goings-on of Mulder and Scully by holding a glass up to the wall or through the vent in the room, especially with the low tones at which they are speaking.
- A lot of apartments have identical layouts for each room, excepted flipped. If this was the case then Padgett's apartment would be a mirrored layout of Mulder's and the two "dens" would share a wall (and a vent). This would make it possible for him to hear through the wall with a glass. This is also shown by the fact that Mulder and Scully can hear him typing through the vent, as his desk is right on the other side of the wall.
- At the beginning of the episode, when Padgett removes his "own" heart in the bathroom, we see his shirt soaked with dark red blood in the corresponding area. In the next scenes, when he goes to the basement incinerator and rides the elevator back up with Scully, his (same) shirt is spotless.
- The index cards that Phillip Padgett pins to his wall are covered with plot points from the T.S. Elliot poem "The Wasteland".
Cast and Characters
- Angelo Vacco (Kevin) previously played Angelo Garza in The X-Files episode "F. Emasculata" and Door Man in "Talitha Cumi".
- John Hawkes as Phillip Padgett
- Nestor Serrano as Ken Naciamento
- Michael Bailey Smith as Guard
- Angelo Vacco as Kevin
- Jillian Bach as Maggie
- Casey C. O'Neill as Cemetery Grounds Keeper